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Sunday afternoon I attended a vigil at the Gene Leahy Mall for the victims of Club Q—the recent mass murder at a gay bar in Colorado Springs.  A vibrant group of folks endured the chilly temperatures as the sun set to listen to prayers, calls to action, and moving songs.

It’s meaningful to me to be present with my people in times of lament, but I was glad not to be one of the clergy speakers this time.  Better to sit and listen.  I feel a weariness and numbness around this sort of work and am not sure what words I would have mustered.

Back in June of 2016 after the mass murder of queer people at the Pulse Nightclub, there were a couple of local events I participated in.  One was a prayer service at the Metropolitan Community Church, and here was the prayer I offered that night:

I am goddamned tired of vigils.  I’ve been to too many.  Organized too many. Participated in too many.
You know what, God, the first one was too many.  Make it stop.
Stop the terrorists from killing us please.
Stop the gun lobby from destroying our country please.
Stop the bigots from saying the words that make people hate us please.
Just please make it stop.
I want to kiss my husband free of shame and guilt and fear.
I want to raise our son free of danger.
I want to go to church free of the possibility of being gunned down or blown up.
I want to go dancing and drinking and partying so I can be free, not afraid.
I want to love other people.  Be joyful with other people.  Hope with other people.
So, please make it stop.
Just make it stop.  That’s my prayer.

Lament is a vital spiritual and emotional exercise.  Sharing our hurt, anger, fear, and sadness with God and as part of a gathered community is essential for our health and well-being.

As I sat there on Sunday evening listening to others speak, I recalled my hurt, angry prayer of six years ago and wondered what I might have said this time if called upon to speak again.  And was relieved not to have to.

The Homeland Security Department has issued a domestic terrorism bulletin describing “a heightened threat environment” against the LGBTQ community.  A sobering thing to read, even if long ago I did the spiritual work of preparing myself for the danger that would come with being an out gay public spokesperson and activist in the heartland.

This is the season of Advent, of waiting for light to appear in the darkness, a reminder that our hopes and dreams for peace and love are something that have yet to come in fullness.  Sunday morning, I preached about the capacity to wonder as essential for our survival, since wonder helps us to notice the small green tendril of hope coming from the lifeless stump, as in Isaiah’s vision.

And so the vigil does its work.  Here we were gathered in the beautiful new downtown park, in this open public space defying terror and fear at an event that the Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Board had helped to organize.  The small crowd wasn’t resigned to sadness but motivated, responding loudly to calls for action.  The music was beautiful and stirring.  It was good to be together in our vibrant diversity.  Throughout the event you could hear the children playing at the adjacent playground, and afterwards walk through the park to enjoy the holiday decorations.


421 South 36th Street, Omaha Nebraska, 68131
(Located at the corner of 36th and Harney Streets)






First Central Congregational Church